OKC Thunder marketing panel visits sports marketing class


A sports marketing class hosted four representatives from the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team to discuss the various aspects of the sports marketing field Tuesday.

The panel included Ashley Barnett, marketing and promotions coordinator, Travis Herman, director of tickets and premium sales, Kara Hille, director of corporate communications, and Tanna Zach, manager of marketing outreach, all employed with the Thunder.

Zach and Barnett began with a presentation on the Thunder brand. They described the logo as progressive and forward-thinking. Zach spoke about their social media presence, which has 13 million followers overall.

Barnett spoke on the community relations work they do. For example, when Russell Westbrook, who averages over 30 points per game, resigned from the Thunder this summer, the Thunder and the community came together to celebrate his time with the team.

Barnett also spoke on the diverse audience the Thunder caters to. For example, the Thunder has placed bus benches in Spanish, and during home games there is a segment for Spanish speakers.

“Oklahoma has a huge Mexican population,” Shawn Michaud, sophomore in marketing, said. “I see that [they] focus a lots towards them and not going for the broad crowd.”

The presentation’s focus was on the regional growth within Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Kansas, the Thunder’s broadcast region. To further this growth, the Thunder’s representatives hosted a watch party of Tuesday’s game against the Sacramento Kings at Tanner’s Bar and Grill.

There are also plans for Rumble, the Thunder’s mascot, to mentor Willie the Wildcat and for the Thunder Girls to mentor the Classy Cats.

“We cover a lot of these topics in class,” Douglas Walker, associate professor in marketing, said. “This supplements the class with real-world examples. Marketing in general can be very fast paced. … We always find out where the cutting edge is.”

After the presentation, Walker asked the panel questions over topics discussed in class, then opened up the discussion to students. Questions included the quality of the fan experience, the complications of a small marketing team and how they market their two most noteworthy new players, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George.